Wednesday, September 22, 2010

wednesdayness: education, Ben Hecht praises terrorism, etc.

The overblown crisis in American education:
the data do not show that charter schools in general are better than district schools. There are also many school-reform efforts besides charter schools: the one with the best sustained record of producing better-educated children in difficult circumstances, in hundreds of schools over many years, is a rigorously field-tested curriculum called Success for All, but because it’s not part of the story line it goes almost completely unmentioned. Similarly, on the issue of tenure, the clear implication of most school-reform writing these days—that abolishing teacher tenure would increase students’ learning—is an unproved assumption.
What's wrong with our schools?:
Given that education is meant to be the key that unlocks the barrier to social mobility and we have spent a fortune on our schools over the last couple of decades, why is the social gap no longer narrowing?

Or, to put it in nice simple language, why do rich, thick kids do better than poor, clever children?

...Rich kids - thick or otherwise - do better than poor. The biggest predictor by far of how well a child will do in later life is the parents' income.

That may be unsurprising but it is nonetheless deeply shocking. Indeed, you might argue that it is shocking because it is unsurprising. We have always known it, but we have still allowed it to happen. We expect it.

Yet it is not as though it is somehow pre-ordained - the inevitable result of wealth divisions that exist everywhere. The comparison with other countries proves that it is not.
I was just reading about Ben Hecht, a writer I generally admire, and I came on this, which made me think about people who damn all Muslims because a few celebrated the bombing of the World Trade Tower. After the bombing of the King David Hotel, Hecht said, "Every time you blow up a British arsenal, or wreck a British jail, or send a British railroad sky high, or rob a British bank, or let go with your guns at the British betrayers and invaders of your homeland, the Jews of America make a little holiday in their hearts."